Rave Reviews Log: Realistic Fiction

August 30, 2011

Sparrow Road

By Sheila O'Connor
Rating: 4 1/2 stars

In this lovely book, Raine is bewildered when her mom up and moves them for the summer from Milwaukee to the wilds of the old manor house at Sparrow Road, nearest town 8 miles away.  Her mom took a job as the cook for the artists who live in residence at the house for the summer, citing that it will be good for Raine to have the time in the country.  Raine is homesick for her Grandpa Mac, and not that willing to have a country experience, but as she begins to meet the artists themselves, she changes her mind.  Diego encourages her to write and gives her a way to begin.  Colorful Josie is full of grand plans and ideas.  Gentle Lillian talks of orphans at the house--is she speaking to ghosts?  Only stiff Eleanor is to be steered clear of.  As Raine settles in, she discovers that the house used to be an orphanage, and she begins to uncover its past.  She also discovers that there is something in the nearby town of Comfort that is the REAL thing that brought her mother to Sparrow Road--something that could change both of their lives.  Full of great characters, real emotions, a touch of mystery, and the power of art, readers will love this gentle but powerful story.  Fans of Kate DiCamillo's Because of Winn-Dixie will find this book a natural to follow up with.  A wonderful story!


By Andrew Clements
Rating: 3 1/2 stars

Sixth grader Clayton is a troublemaker in school.  Not in a malicious or violent way, but in that clever, funny way that endears him to others as much as it gets him into the principal's office.  He loves to brag about his exploits to his older brother Mitch, who was also a troublemaker in his time, and his folder in the school office grows weekly.  But when his brother Mitch comes back from a short jaunt in jail, he is determined to turn over a new leaf--and that Clayton will, too.  But how does someone with a reputation like Clayton's suddenly STOP being a troublemaker and turn into a regular guy?  Who will ever believe he has changed?  This is a story for anyone out there who tried to change the way they are--or wants to--and for the people who need to give that person a chance to be different.  A quick and enjoyable school story.